Any Chinese person who was alive during the Cultural Revolution will remember a time when children were ordered to pull up flowers and grass in the parks, because they were decadent and bourgeois. Jung Chang, the author of the family memoir Wild Swans, wrote "most parks were brutalized wastelands" during this period. She says she went "mad with joy" when she first saw Hyde Park in London.
Today, Zibo parks are well maintained and well used. My colleague Joanna and have walked together through the park several times and returned again last week to stroll around, sit in the shade under the trees and watch the paddle boats scoot around the lake. We paused at the lovely stone bridge which leads to a little island in the lake.
I've seen very little graffiti in China. This bridge was covered with messages which appeared to be mostly love notes.
This statue is on the little island is also covered with love messages. A stone heart hangs suspended between the two pillars.
Luckily, Joanna and I had just visited a stationery store. I had a felt marker in my purse. And Happy Father's Day, dear.